To be honest, I wasn’t impressed when I stepped out of the bus in the Warsaw’s city center. I saw many modern buildings with shopping centers around me and a tall soviet era building, the Palace of Culture and Science, which sticks out as a sore thumb and is not very well liked by the locals.
However, Poland quickly grew on me. Not only because of the beauty of beautiful and quaint “new” old towns of Warsaw and Krakow, but mostly because of the people we met in the country that has had such a rough history.
We were first introduced to Polish Hospitality by our hosts in Warsaw, who I’m convinced are the Polish version of us. We quickly made friends with Ewelina and her husband Tomek. I know we would be close if only we lived near each other. Not only did they feed us yummy, home cooked Polish cuisine:
but also were kind enough to invite us with their friends to Melina (Polish dive bars) and a friend’s party. We were thankful for these unique opportunities to get to know Polish culture and hang out with the locals. To be honest, I was a bit nervous about people’s reaction when they find out that I’m Russian given the painful history. On the contrary, everyone I met was open, friendly and excited for Poland’s future rather than looking back and holding a grudge. Here are some pictures from Melina and the party:
where we encountered Polish Hospitality again! Our hosts Stan and Gosia who will be getting married this summer. Stan was kind enough to pick us up at the train station and drive us to his house, which we were very thankful for after the long train ride.
Gosia and Stan also fed us traditional Polish dishes:
Overall, we were impressed by Polish people we’ve met, who make this country so resilient. We would love to come back here in the future and wish this country a bright future ahead.
Must do while in Poland:
1) Visit a Polish Milk Bar. You must learn a couple of phrases in Polish and get a translator with menu items to understand a huge menu:
This is how many locals eat: cheap, quick, homemade food. This is a great option for a budget traveler like us.
2) Go to Auschwitz. It’s a heavy experience that you can’t prepare yourself for. You receive a ton of detailed information about the horrific murders and tortures that took place there. It was very difficult to wrap your head around all of it and impossible to imagine the horror these innocent people faced. I couldn’t help but shed tears for them.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana
Our pictures from Auschwitz
3) Drink Beer. It’s rather cheap there, in abundance and tastes great! Also, you are likely to meet the locals over beers and learn about Polish history and culture through their eyes. Polish people seem very willing to share their candid opinions.